Ex-pilot fired gun in direction of men
Man denied firearm charges
A MAN has been found guilty of recklessly shooting a rifle in the direction of a group of hunters.
Michael Sutherland, 38, denied firing his weapon in the direction of an Irish hunting party on October 26, 2009.
The ex-RAF pilot claimed he had no knowledge of the presence of the hunters and was shooting rabbits on his farm.
But at a sheriff and jury trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court, a jury of nine women and six men took less than two hours to reach a majority verdict of guilty on the charge of putting eight men at risk of injury or death by culpably or recklessly firing a rifle in their direction.
Sheriff Kenneth Stewart also granted a motion put forward by the Crown for the forfeiture of Sutherland’s high-powered .243 rifle and live ammunition.
Defence Agent Ian Duguid told the court Sutherland had no intention of keeping any guns in future and would not be re-applying for a firearms certificate.
The court had heard how eight Irish men joined a geese shoot in a field next to Sutherland’s farm in Newburgh when he started shooting in their direction.
One of the men told the court how he packed dead geese around his body to protect himself from flying bullets.
The court also heard how Sutherland admitted to police officers he was “in a bit of trouble” when they arrested him, but he denied this in court.
Sutherland was reported as saying: “I should have complained about them a while ago. It’s my word against theirs and there’s a lot of them. I’m in a bit of trouble.”
Sutherland maintained he was shooting rabbits on his land, and had no idea the hunters were there. He said: “I took all reasonable precaution to make sure there was a safe area to shoot.”
But the jury disagreed and Sutherland was found guilty.
Sentence was deferred until April 21 for reports.
Sutherland pleaded guilty to a separate charge of possessing more rounds of ammunition than were covered by his firearms licence at his address, which was given in court as The New Farmhouse, Hillhead of Foveran, Newburgh.